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Published on October 08, 2019

pregnant woman eating salad

Seven Tips for a Healthy Diet During Pregnancy

A lot of things are happening in your body during pregnancy and that’s why diet is such an important focus during this time. Nutrient-dense foods are the way to go even though you may crave processed or fried foods like French fries, ice cream and potato chips.

Those empty calories won’t do you or your baby a lot of good, though they might help you put on extra pounds.

“The old saying that when you’re pregnant you need to eat for two isn’t really accurate,” said Janine Albers, RD, LN, registered dietitian with Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

Here’s what Albers has to say about your diet during pregnancy:

1. Don’t pile on the calories. In fact, during the first trimester you don’t need any extra calories at all, if you’re at a healthy weight. During the second trimester add about 340 calories a day and 450 daily during the third trimester.

Weight gain should vary according to your pre-pregnancy weight. The recommendations include:

  • Under weight: 28-40 pounds
  • Normal weight: 25-35 pounds
  • Overweight: 15-25 pounds
  • Obese: Less than 15 pounds

2. Eat a variety of fruits and veggies. During pregnancy focus on eating smarter, not just more. About three cups of veggies and two cups of fruits daily will provide a wide range of nutrients, such as folic acid, which is vital for proper growth of baby.

3. Eat foods rich in iron. Your blood volume increases as your body helps grow a baby, so iron is very important. During pregnancy a prenatal vitamin/mineral supplement is recommended to meet increased iron and other nutrient needs during pregnancy. Foods rich in iron include:

  • Red meat, pork and poultry, which offer the best absorption
  • Spinach
  • Dried fruits such as raisins
  • Iron-fortified cereals
  • Beans and peas (kidney beans, black beans, refried beans)

4. Pair iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C. This helps your body with iron absorption. Citrus fruits are great for vitamin C but so are tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cantaloupe and mangoes. This can be as easy as adding a side of broccoli to your chicken or making a tomato-based meat sauce with pasta.

5. Increase fiber to help with constipation. Most plant-based foods are high in fiber. Think beans, nuts and seeds, fruits and veggies, and whole-grain foods such as 100% whole grain bread and brown rice.

6. Listen to your body. When you feel satisfied that’s your body’s sign to stop eating. Pairing a carbohydrate with a protein can help you feel satisfied longer (peanut butter with an apple.)

7. Think natural if you want a sweet treat. Fruit is the best choice, but other sweet snacks include a piece of dark chocolate, trail mix or granola bars. As a rule of thumb, snacks should be about 150 calories.

Get more tips for a healthy pregnancy and learn about our birthing program.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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